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AGE OF THE ASSASSIN

Hawks were monitoring pinging of Kinnear’s phone when he was assassinated, court hears

Hawks were monitoring pinging of Kinnear’s phone when he was assassinated, court hears
Former police officer Bradley Goldblatt and co-owner of pinging company 1 Track Solutions had sold pings to former debt collector Zane Kilian since November 2018. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Two weeks before the Anti-Gang Unit’s Lt-Col Charl Kinnear was shot dead on 18 September 2020, State witness Bradley Goldblatt panicked about the number of pings on Kinnear’s phone and contacted the authorities.

Testifying in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, 16 May, Bradley Goldblatt said he became nervous about the level of pinging on police officer Charl Kinnear’s phone as he believed there would be a shooting.

He contacted a woman he knew in the State Security Agency who then put him in touch with the Hawks. However, Kinnear was gunned down soon after.

During his testimony, Goldblatt told the court that the same people who pinged lawyer William Booth’s phone ahead of the failed attempt on his life were also pinging Kinnear’s phone and that of alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome “Donkie” Booysen. 

He claimed all he wanted to do was protect Kinnear.

The pinging evidence concerns co-accused Zane Kilian and alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack. During their previous failed bail application in the Blue Downs Regional Court, it was revealed that Modack had allegedly paid Kilian R96,000 to carry out pings.

Read in Daily Maverick: Nafiz Modack paid murder accused Zane Kilian almost R100,000, State alleges

The State says that the pinging of Kinnear and Booth’s phones led to Kinnear’s death on 18 September 2020 in front of his Bishop Lavis home, and Booth’s attempted murder on 9 April 2020.

Kilian has admitted to pinging Kinnear’s cellphone to trace his location and claims he did so at the behest of co-accused Modack. 

Initially, Kilian was the sole accused, but Modack was added to the charge sheet. Both men have also been charged with attempting to murder Booth.

Modack and Kilian, along with 13 co-accused, are collectively facing 124 charges including murder, attempted murder, corruption, gangsterism, extortion, the illegal interception of communications, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The other accused are Jacques Cronje, Ziyaad Poole, Moegamat Brown, Riyaat Gesant, Fagmeed Kelly, Mario Petersen, Petrus Visser, Janick Adonis, Amaal Jantjies, former Anti-Gang Unit Sergeant Ashley Tabisher, Yaseen Modack, Mogamat Mukudam and Ricardo Morgan.

Nafiz Modack Kinnear

Nafiz Modack in the Western Cape High Court on 6 May 2024, facing charges including the murder of Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinear and the assassination attempt on the Cape Town lawyer William Booth. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

‘1 Track Solutions’

Goldblatt’s father Ivan founded the company 1 Track Solutions in early 2018 and he became a co-owner in September of that year. The company, according to his testimony, is a wholesaler of location-based services, including the selling of pings used to locate a cellphone.

The pings were supplied by LAD, a division of the 3DT Group in America. On Monday 13 May, US citizen Larry Hurwitz told the court he had developed a system that can be used to ping a cellphone in South Africa. 

Read more in Daily Maverick:Kinnear murder trial State witness explains how ‘pinging’ can track a cellphone user’s location”

When asked by the prosecutor to explain the process of selling pings, Goldblatt said he sold bundles of 50 pings for R2,100 per month, with any unused pings rolled over to the following month.

He said “pinging is not for everyday men to come into my office and buy pings. It is only available for certain categories, such as missing people, security, law enforcement investigations, drug rehabilitation centres, debt collectors, and asset and vehicle repossessions.”

He said he screens prospective clients and would do a criminal background check on a client wanting to buy pings.

When asked by Judge Robert Henney if he had permission from the authorities to conduct pinging, he replied: “I did not have any authorisation under the Rica Act.”

kilian kinnear murder

Nafiz Modack (left) and Zane Kilian face charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, including the murder of policeman Charl Kinnear in September 2020. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

Profiling a client

Goldblatt told the court that when a client approached him about purchasing pings, he would collect the person’s personal information and create a platform. Following that, the system would provide the client with a username and password.

Once the client logs into the system, he or she will navigate to the settings screen and change their password to their preference. If the user does not change their password, the system will not allow the next phase, which is the pinging process. 

Prosecutor Greg Wolmarans interjected and informed Goldblatt that Kilian’s legal representative Pieter Nel had told Hurwitz on Wednesday during cross-examination that “you gave Kilian a username and password that he never changed”.

He replied: “To be honest, this isn’t entirely accurate. I received calls from Kilian, who told me that he does not know how to use the computer. What he did was lock himself out.

“If you, the user, don’t change your password, the system won’t take you to the actual site where the pingings are carried out. I can’t change a client’s password,” he replied.

Nafiz Modack, Zane Kilian and Jacques Cronje appear in the Blue Downs Court

Nafiz Modack (left), accused of murdering Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, appeared with Zane Kilian (centre) and Jacques Cronje on a host of charges in the Blue Downs Regional Court on 14 May. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Selling pings

Shedding light on pinging in South Africa’s context, Goldblatt told the court that his LAD system, with the help of other tools including Google Maps and the MarisIT credit bureau, are used together to show the location of a number being pinged.

As an example, he said that if a suspect is sought through the MarisIT system, the client can get information on cell numbers and identify numbers linked to the credit bureau. The next step, he added, would then be to compare the ping with Google Maps to see if the ping and the address are in the same proximity.

“You must have a physical address to do a ping. One cannot purely ping by typing a cellphone number to get an address. The address is used with other tools to take you to the physical address. The other tools include consumer trace reports, the cellphone number, ID number, physical address, home and postal address… also the debt summary showing current debt and employment history,” he told the court.

Around 2019, Kilian became a client of Goldblatt. Initially, Kilian struggled to pay for pings and at times Goldblatt had to phone him. But around February and March 2020, he said, everything changed when Kilian began paying upfront and regularly called in for top-ups.

“He told me he is doing the pings for Modack,” he testified.

On 1 September 2020, Goldblatt received an automatic alert from the LAD system that Kilian was repeatedly pinging the same numbers. 

“I then put the ping number on the true caller and the names of the pinged person came out as Charl K, Sergeant Tisha van der Horst from the AGU, and William Booth.

“I then realised that Booth was the same person who was in the news earlier in 2020 during an attempt on his life, and also read about the AGU. I panicked. I contacted a woman from State Security who I know and asked her to report the matter. She gave me the number of the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State (unit) in Gauteng.

“I told Warrant Officer Wynand Oliver that I need to see him and that this is something serious I cannot discuss over the phone. I then disabled Kilian from the LAD system and sent him a message that there are some glitches with system maintenance,” he said.

On 3 September 2020, Goldblatt met Olivier and told him that the numbers of Kinnear, Booth and Jerome “Donkie” Booysen were pinged more than a thousand times and that there had been an attempt on Booth’s life.

“I wanted something to be done to stop whatever was planned to happen to Kinnear. I was nervous because I was convinced there was going to be a shooting. I wanted to protect Kinnear. The same people who pinged Booth during the attempt on his life also pinged Kinnear,” he said.

Around 7pm on 3 September 2020, he got a call from Olivier who gave him the green light to unblock Kilian so that the Hawks could monitor him.

Charl Kinnear was assassinated outside his home in Bishop Lavis. (Photo: Noor Slamdien)

“Kilian wanted more pings and we agreed he would pay a sum of R11,000 so that he could have unlimited usage of pinging. I also noticed that Kilian did a search on MarisIT to get the addresses and personal details of Kinnear,” he said.

On one particular day, Kinnear was in Johannesburg and Goldblatt went to Olivier’s office and spoke to his supervisor, who then phoned retired AGU head Andre Lincoln.

According to Goldblatt the conversation with Lincoln was recorded and played back to him, and he heard Lincoln saying that Kinnear received protection while on duty.

But Goldblatt wasn’t happy and changed Kilian’s package to a prepaid one which allowed Kilian to only buy 100 pings.

September 2020 pinging spelt danger

Goldblatt testified that things escalated on 16 September 2020. On that day, from around 5.26pm, Goldblatt said he received numerous messages from Kilian requesting urgent pings citing an emergency situation.

“I ignored his messages. I wasn’t comfortable at all. Kilian’s messages include ‘please load 100 pings, ASAP’, emoji of praying hands, ‘please please send, only one left’.

“Around 5.30pm, I replied OK.”

Goldblatt then contacted Olivier who gave him the go-ahead to sell pings to Kilian. Pinging on Kinnear, Booth and Booysen’s phones increased dramatically from around 15 September 2020, according to Goldblatt.

Nicolette Kinnear, wife of murdered Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, says alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack hated her husband. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

“On 16 September the pinging was more focused on Kinnear, which started at 00.15am, 00.51am, 00.55am and again at 6.21am.

On 18 September, the day of the assassination, Goldblatt said: “I was sitting in my pool when I received a call from the woman I know from State Security. She was crying and asked if I had heard the news. I asked what news and she told me to turn on the news.

“It is then that I learned about the murder of Kinnear. I put five and five together,” he told the court.

The following day Olivier informed him that police from Cape Town were on their way to see him. Goldblatt said he received a call from Kilian around 9.30pm on 20 September. 

“He told me there is trouble. I asked him what happened and Kilian told me I mustn’t worry. Kilian asked me to delete him from LAD and MarisIT to make it as if he had never worked on the system.” 

Goldblatt didn’t delete him and forwarded the number Kilian phoned him on to Olivier. 

The case continues on Monday, 20 May. DM

This article was corrected on May 21, 2024 to indicate the cost for a bundle of pings – R2,100, not R21,000.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bonga Siyothula says:

    Since clearly, no one was really protecting Kinnear, and this Goldblatt fella appears to have been the only one really concerned about the fact that Kinnear was about to be shot, I wonder why he just didn’t call Kinnear directly. If it were me I feel like in this situation I would have phoned Kinnear directly to warn him and let him to lie low. He clearly had access to Kinnear’s cellphone number. But he still comes off too me as the only person that really did the most to prevent this assassination from taking place. he came short, but he is the one that appears to have tried his most….

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